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Golf & Retirement

The Cost Of Golf In Retirement

Continued (page 2 of 2)

The area is vastly different from when they moved there. The explosive growth of Walmart, whose headquarters are in nearby Bentonville, has been the primary driver. The population of Benton County has surged -- from 97,000 in 1990 to more than 200,000 -- and the amenities are far better.

"It's much more modern," Quinlan says. "We've got a mall. We've got good hotels and restaurants; we've got a Ruth's Chris now... "

There are also quite a few golf communities these days. Among the biggest is Bella Vista, with about 24,000 residents, six 18-hole golf courses and two nine-holers.

As you might expect from a couple whose honeymoon included four rounds at Pebble Beach, golf plays a major role in their lives. They're members of the Pinnacle Country Club, "an outstanding course," says Quinlan, that they play four or five times a week. The Arkansas golf season lasts essentially 12 months a year, though it gets a little chilly in the winter months, when there's an occasional dusting of snow.

The cost-of-living difference between Arkansas and, well, anywhere, is a big part of the appeal. The Quinlans' initiation fee at Pinnacle was $15,000 in 1992, less than half of what they got for selling their club membership in California. Pinnacle, now under new ownership, has dropped its initiation fee to $5,000 ($4,000 for seniors).

The Quinlans live in a 1,900-square-foot town house they bought for $250,000 four years ago. Before their 2006 "downsizing," they had a 3,300-square-foot home overlooking Pinnacle, which they sold for $550,000. Another factor keeping them happy in Arkansas: Two of the Quinlans' three grown children (and four grandkids) live in the area.

"We considered moving to Texas a while ago, maybe San Antonio," Quinlan says. "But no, I think this is it for us. We'll tough it out through the winters. Last year was pretty bad. We couldn't play golf for a couple of months." (Somewhere in snow country, a tiny violin plays.)

retirement

retirement

PARK CITY / UTAH

Golf was an important consideration when Jim and Marilyn Brezovec mulled their retirement options, but it wasn't the only consideration. The Brezovecs are avid skiers, too.

The St. Louis couple thought about Vail and Aspen, where they'd spent a few vacations over the years, but a pair of factors sold them on Park City, Utah: its greater economic diversity ("It's a real city -- not just all high-end," Marilyn says) and the ease of traveling through Salt Lake City's airport, 40 minutes away. ("Once we allowed five hours to get from Vail to Denver, and we still missed our flight because of a traffic jam," she says.)

In early 2007 the Brezovecs bought a 4,000-square-foot town house within walking distance of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Park Meadows Country Club, which they joined. They usually play four times a week during prime golf season, which runs from early June through early October.

Jim, 63, a former Monsanto executive, points out that they can easily stretch the golf season by driving just a few minutes down the mountain from Park City (elevation: 7,000 feet). Among his favorite spots is Wasatch Mountain State Park, half an hour away. Featuring 72 holes of golf, it usually stays open from early May through October, and on weekdays it charges seniors $37, including cart.

The day after they moved into their town house, the Brezovecs met what Marilyn, 64, calls "our 40 new best friends" from the Park Meadows ski group and were hitting the slopes at Deer Valley Resort, one of three ski areas within 15 minutes of their home. The couple skis at least four times a week during the winter. A season-long weekday ski pass at Deer Valley costs about $1,600 a year per person ($675 for those 65 and over). Marilyn, who worked in sales in the dental industry, figures they'll continue to combine skiing and golf for another 10 years. "Once we're not skiing any longer, we'll have to decide about living in an area with such a long winter," she says.

During the fall "shoulder season," when it's getting too cold for golf but it's still too early for skiing, the Brezovecs like to take a month-long trip overseas -- often with their golf clubs. So far they've visited Portugal, New Zealand and Ireland, for which they budget about $25,000 per trip. This year they're heading to Argentina. In the spring shoulder season, they stick to the United States, traveling to see family and friends and playing golf along the way.

One surprising aspect of their new life in Park City: They figured friends would come to see them only during ski season, but their guest room has been getting a real workout in the summer, too. Says Jim: "Once people hear about our 85 degrees with zero humidity, they want to come out and see for themselves."

retirement

SCOTTSDALE

Ed and penny Rady were pretty sure they'd like to retire in Scottsdale, but still, it felt like a big leap. He was from the East Coast, she from the Midwest, and neither had lived in Arizona. So they eased into the market, buying a small $250,000 home in the Country Club at DC Ranch community in 1998 while Ed worked as an executive with a health-care communications company in New York.

Any concerns they had about adjusting to life in Scottsdale vanished as soon as they joined DC Ranch, which gets its name from the old Desert Camp ranch. "We've made friendships for life there," Ed says. "The camaraderie is unbelievable."

Certain that they'd found the retirement destination of their dreams, the Radys sold their Scottsdale starter home in 2000 and bought a 5,500-square-foot home overlooking the 11th hole at the Tom Lehman/John Fought-designed course. Total cost: $2.6 million. After Ed retired in 2007, they added a 5,700-square-foot summer home at Forest Highlands Golf Club, a two-hour drive away in Flagstaff. That one cost $1.6 million. Now the Radys spend May through October in mountainous Flagstaff -- where temperatures are in the mid-80s during the day and drop to the high 50s at night -- and the rest of the year in Scottsdale.

Penny, 51, carries an 11.4 Handicap Index; Ed, 61, is "about an 18." Penny gets out four times a week at DC Ranch and usually twice a week when they're at Forest Highlands, where there are a pair of courses. Ed generally plays two or three times a week.

Though golf is a key part of their social lives, traveling with their friends plays a big role, too. The Radys and several other couples from DC Ranch have journeyed to Africa, the Burgundy region of France, Hawaii and Mexico. The guys in their crew take an annual golf trip to Las Vegas, and the women just got back from Lake Tahoe. Not long ago, the Radys had five other couples from DC Ranch up to their place at Forest Highlands and organized a golf tournament for them. "There's really something special about that group at DC Ranch," Ed says. "It's unlike any place I've ever known. We got lucky."

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